‘I didn’t expect to be on the bench’: New Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt admits he was surprised not to start in Italian giants’ Serie A opener at Parma
- The Dutch defender had sealed a £67.8million move from Ajax in the summer
- But de Ligt was benched for Juventus’ clash with Parma in opening league clash
- Maurizio Sarri’s side collected a 1-0 victory in his first game upon Italy return
Matthijs de Ligt admitted he was surprised to be among Juventus’ substitutes for the Italian giants’ league opener at Parma on Saturday night.
The Dutch defender, secured in a £67.8million switch from Ajax this summer, was forced to watch on as Maurizio Sarri’s men edged to a 1-0 victory.
Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were the new boss’ preferred defensive partnership, and it was the latter who touched in from close range to net the only goal of the game in the first half.
Matthijs de Ligt was forced to settle for a place on the bench in Juventus’ opening day victory
In the wake of the narrow win, De Ligt also explained that he hadn’t received any indications that he wouldn’t make his first Italian top flight start.
He told Dutch publication AD: ‘Naturally, I would’ve preferred to play and I didn’t get any clues from training, so I didn’t expect to be on the bench.
‘Obviously, I respect the decision of the Coach. I must be realistic, as I am still settling in here in Italy.
The Dutch defender admitted he respected boss Maurizio Sarri’s decision not to start him
‘The defenders who played, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, were considered for a long time to be the best centre-back partnership in the world.’
But the 20-year-old stalwart, who captained Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals last season, admitted he has always been prepared to battle for a starting spot.
He added: ‘I have to earn my place throughout the season. The first five weeks have been tough on a physical level, but I do notice that I’m getting stronger.
‘Defensively, the demands are not that different to what I was accustomed to at Ajax, as the Coach wants us to anticipate the movement.’
The 20-year-old had captained Ajax last season and was involved in a lengthy transfer saga